Land Clearing

Queensland has seen a rapid rise in clearing rates in the last few years..

Current clearing rates are at the highest rate they have been for many years. Official figures indicate that land clearing rates in Queensland have risen from a low point of 78000ha in 2009/10 to 296000ha in 2013/14. After a period of decline, this rapid rise in clearing in the last few years can be attributed to changes to laws and regulations by the LNP government.

Changes to land clearing laws allowed for a lot more clearing.

The Newman government ‘took the axe to Queensland’s tree clearing laws’ (their own words), which allowed the clearing of areas that were previously protected. Furthermore, they: reversed the ban on broad-scale clearing; removed protections on ecologically important, rehabilitated woodlands; and reduced the enforcement of regulation and monitoring of land clearing. As a result, the rates of land clearing increased dramatically, giving Queensland the dubious honour for the worst deforestation rates in Australia. 

Following community pressure and the incredible work of environmental organisations, the Labor party (during the 2017 Queensland State Election) promised to make the strongest-ever laws to end deforestation in Queensland. Now that they've been elected, we need to keep the pressure up to ensure they follow through on this promise.

Land and the Great Barrier Reef

Large scale clearing, erosion and run-off, climate change — combine to add to the pressures the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is already under. The Queensland Auditor-General has already pointed to clearing as a key threat to the GBR, and the Reef 2050 Plan which seeks to lay out a pathway to protect the GBR assumes land clearing law reform will take place in Queensland.

Land clearing, Climate Change and Drought

Clearing is bad for the climate and for drought.

As well as destroying nearly 300,000 hectares of woodlands in one year (think 300,000 pitches at Lang Park), this also released 35.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, stored in the trees that were knocked down. At a more local level, scientific research indicates the removal of woodlands can reduce local rainfall and add to drought. At a time when we should be using trees as a carbon sink, mass clearing is adding to the problem of climate change, and potentially making droughts worse.

Land Clearing and Wildlife Habitat

Millions of native animals which depend on woodlands for their habitats have been killed over the years from land clearing. A number of threatened species, including the iconic koala and some of our rarest birds, are directly impacted by the loss of trees and woodlands. If we want to protect our special, unique biodiversity — one of the stated purposes of the Vegetation Management Act — we need to dramatically reduce land clearing rates.

and what about erosion?

Trees help keep landscapes intact and healthy. Clearing trees can lead to degraded land, erosion and run off especially along river banks. There are many instances now of massive eroded gullies on the east coast of Queensland being created or made worse by tree clearing.

What are the solutions?

  • We need stronger laws to protect our bush and forests now. 
  • Now that the current QLD government has promised to deliver the strongest-ever laws to end deforestation in Queensland, SCEC along with our allies in the conservation sector will be working to ensure the government follows through on its election commitment. 


What has been SCECs involvement?

  • SCEC has worked tirelessly to protect Queensland's forests for 40 years. We helped secure a regional forests agreement which protected 400,000ha of forests in south-east Queensland.
  • Today we are a part of an alliance of conservation groups working to secure stronger laws to end deforestation in Queensland. We advocate to local and state government representatives on the importance of protecting native forests.